All New All Number 1s

My first proper post for 2014 and it only took me 2 and ½ months to make it. That New Year’s Resolution is really working out for me here.

I have been having a weird conversation with myself lately about my comic book intake. Having successfully finished two large volumes of work (( Planetary ) and The Incal) recently, the idea of waiting for trade has gained some steam around these parts. Weekly, I’ve gone completely digital, with Jupiter’s Legacy and my Retrofit’s 2014 subscription proving the only exceptions so far. However, with this craving for a solid collected edition in my hands, the dollars that I insert into the Comixology machine are becoming less and less.

Then this Wednesday came and blew that notion of me being a trade-waiter to holy high Hell and now I’m writing some reviews. I was lucky in that some very good comics came out this week. Two issues of Stray Bullets? Hello! Take my digital moneys! Round it out with some East Of West, Westward, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and The Royals, and you have yourself a solid little week.

But those are not the books I want to talk to you about this week. You know that disgusting shame you feel when you purchase a Marvel comic that was built on the backs of some many talented men and women who see fuck all of that $3.99 cover price times however many stupid X-books and A-books you pick up on a weekly basis? Let’s put on our Marvel Fanboy mask and forget about all of that for a moment because we’re working for the Marvel PR Machine tonight, ladies and gents.

I was a possessed man with an iPad tonight. Captain Marvel # 1? Sure. Avengers Undercover? Sounds like a blast if I’m to believe what I heard about Avengers Arena. And Secret Avengers by Ales Kot? I’m cool enough for hipster Avengers comics.

These are all of the All New, All Number 1 comics that Marvel put out this week and I bought them.

Avengers Undercover # 1

According to some sources, Avengers Arena was the book to watch out for when Marvel NOW spilled forth it’s ugly entrails upon the suspecting comic book reading populace at large way back when. Super powered teens killing each other? How did I miss this? Oh yeah, I’m this jaded comic book fan who has a hard time trying new super hero comics because, really, I own the Planetary omnibus and why wouldn’t I just pour over that a few more times before giving something new a try, huh?

If Avengers Arena is anything like Avengers Undercover, I was asleep at the wheel, guys and gals. Avengers Undercover #1 is a great book. Right away we not only hit the ground running, but we are right up to speed with what came before. And now we get to watch some young heroes try and infiltrate the Masters Of Evil? Deal.

Kev Walker’s art is great. Overlook the occassional panel where the scene looks cropped, and you got some art thats matches up very well with a teen super hero book. Light and airy most times, but dark enough to sync with Dennis Hopeless’ black humor. Hopeless keeps it fast and dense. He elegantly brings you up to speed while also getting you ready for the next step. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors round it all out, setting the tone where it needs to be.

Buy this book already.

Captain Marvel # 1

So this is Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel. It isn’t mind-blowingly amazing but isn’t awful either.

Carol Danvers is many things, but most importantly, she is Captain Marvel. And now she’s in space. Coming off of a post-Infinity shawarma binge, Tony Stark is sending Captain Marvel into that place where no one can here you scream so she can hang around for a little bit and make sure things are kosher. And she does that. Right there in the first couple of pages, she walks around one of those desert space bazaars that are required in order for your western space opera to be taken seriously. But before we get a chance to be all “Yes, Greedo..”, the reader is whisked back into the past where we get to see Carol make up her mind that yeah, being a super hero in space is pretty kick ass so yeah, let's do it. There’s also the requisite, “hey, let’s have a 1-3 page super hero thing that serves no real purpose other than to get our hero into some kind of wacky adventure so everyone remembers that Captain Marvel is a super hero” type of adventure. If maybe someone died in that 1 to 3 page super heroing scene, that would have added some weight to the comic, but unless I’m seeing a C-list heroes head on a pike, you’re just wasting my time here.

David Lopez Lopez's drawings are sharp. Reminds me of Pia Guerra’s work but with a few lee bees thrown on for good, sexy measure. Kelly Sue DeConnick lends this book a voice that is both cheeky and daring at the same time, which is perfect for the character of Carol Danvers. The cold open at the space bazaar ends kind of flat but setting the pieces for Carol’s inevitable departure makes for a much more satisfying read. But then the issue kind of ends on this “To Infinity And Beyond” moment and my eyes roll back a little bit.

Maybe Captain Marvel just ain’t my thing. Maybe next issue they'll win me over. I'm open to the idea.

Secret Avengers # 1

This is a good book. You know whatever that thing is that Matt Fraction started doing with super hero comics when he launched Hawkeye that Superior Foes of Spider-man and She-Hulk are also doing now as well? This book is doing that thing. In addition to Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, we get the Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Agent Coulson, and M.O.D.O.K. who all serve as members of a Black Ops Avengers team in some capacity or another.

Secret Avengers is a book that goes for extremes. Whether it is for laughs or for drama and action, Ales Kot is riffing on that tongue in cheek light hearted super hero adventure in a manner that feels serious at the same time. At least when S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are on the screen. The rest of the time, it’s the Avengers either whining about how many AIM foot soldiers there are or they are getting a massage that turns into a good ol’ fashion target practice session with bazookas and lazer beams.

Ales Kot is a very ambitious writer who he tends to emulate the ones he wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with. He could stand to turn down the Hawkeye a smidge, least he wants to seem like he’s covering Matt Fraction’s Clint. His other book, Zero, is a great sci-fi that has me really excited about what kind of things he’s going to dream up here in the Marvel U. Michael Walsh’s reminds me of a more brutish Michael Lark. One issue and already I’m convinced that he’s a perfect fit for a book of secret ops super hero book.

Also, is Agent Coulson really this adventuring secret agent in the comics? In the movies he always seemed like the middle manager for the Avengers, there to make sure that everyone is still cool with the fact that they’re working for the Man. If you ask me, it's okay if dies in the comics. Like, really dies. Not this, “I was dead but lol now i'm not, and also don't touch Lola, more lols” dead that we have going on the Marvel Movie Cinematic Whatever-verse right now. But like dead, dead. Old School Joe Quesada “Dead Is Dead” dead.